Live updates: Nevada Legislature’s first house passage deadline

24 April 2023

Amid lengthy Assembly and Senate floor sessions prompting impassioned speeches and cross-party dialogue, lawmakers voted on dozens of bills and amendments throughout last week ahead of the session’s second major bill passage deadline.

Tuesday, April 25, is the deadline for bills to be voted out of their first house, meaning lawmakers have had to vote on hundreds of bills that made it through the last deadline, first committee passage, earlier this month.

Last week saw Democratic lawmakers push forward several contentious bills, including measures that would protect access to abortion and reproductive care, and limit access to firearms.

The next two days are expected to bring a marathon of additional votes as lawmakers try to get legislation passed before the deadline. With only a few days left to move bills forward, there are 94 measures in the Assembly and 143 in the Senate that have not received a vote and are not exempt from the deadlines.

Unlike the committee passage deadline, which saw nearly 240 bills die from inaction, Tuesday’s deadline will likely lead to the death of only a few bills. Last session, just seven bills failed at the first house passage deadline. Even among the dozens of bills that will not receive a full house vote by Tuesday, the vast majority have received exemptions, which are typically granted to measures that would impact the state financially and are not subject to deadlines.

Here’s a look at major policies that passed out of floor sessions last week. We’ll be updating this story throughout Monday and Tuesday, as more bills move out of the Assembly and Senate.

LAST WEEK

Medical aid in dying

A contentious measure that would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication prescribed by a physician (SB239) passed out of the Senate on Wednesday on a narrow 11-10 split vote where Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) and Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) joined Republicans in opposition.

2023 marks the fifth legislative session where Nevada lawmakers have debated a measure to legalize life-ending medication for terminally ill patients. Recent polling conducted by  Susquehanna Polling & Research and sponsored by a pro-medical aid-in-dying organization indicated that 82 percent of Nevada voters support this legislation.

Abortion care

As debates over abortion rights rage across the country, senators voted 15-6 on Wednesday to pass SB131, a bill aimed at protecting out-of-state residents seeking abortions in Nevada. Two Republicans joined Democrats in support — Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) and Sen. Carrie Buck (R-Henderson). 

Seevers Gansert said the Dobbs decision allowed for states to decide what they’re going to do around reproductive health care. She added that members of the Senate had shared testimony about challenges they faced surrounding reproductive health care decision-making and that process is personal.

“Given the hodgepodge of laws across the U.S., the one thing that jumps off the page to me is: Women who face these difficult choices, we need to give them our support and our prayers, but we don’t need to give them jail time,” Seevers Gansert said.

Earlier that week on Monday, senators also voted along party lines (13-8), with Republicans in opposition, to pass SJR7, a measure that would enshrine abortion protections and other reproductive rights into the Nevada Constitution, where they would be more difficult to repeal than they are now. The vote prompted emotional and personal stories about abortion from both sides of the aisle.

The measure now heads to the Assembly and, if passed out of the Legislature, it must return to lawmakers in 2025 before it goes in front of voters during the 2026 general election.

Gun restrictions

Lawmakers voted along party lines (13-8), with Democrats in support, to advance SB171, a bill that would prohibit a person from purchasing or possessing any firearm if the person had been convicted of committing or attempting to commit a hate crime in the past 10 years.

Though Republican Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Henderson) voted against the measure, he voted to pass a similar measure while he was serving in the California Legislature.

In the Assembly, legislators also voted on party lines (26-14), with two excused absences, to advance another major gun bill, AB355. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas), the measure would ban the sale of semi-automatic shotguns or certain rifles to anyone younger than 21.

Another gun bill proposed by Jauregui, AB354, that would seek to ban guns around polling places and tighten language in the state’s ban on so-called “ghost guns,” has not yet appeared on the Assembly floor agenda despite passing through committee earlier this month. 

Ending daily room cleaning

Legislation that would remove pandemic-imposed daily hotel room cleaning requirements was passed out of the Senate on an 18-3 vote Friday, with three Democrats, including the committee chairman who oversaw the contentious hearing on the measure, voting in opposition of the bill.

Culinary Workers Local 226 opposed SB441, saying the practice was a good policy. Nevada’s major hotel-casino operators said daily room cleaning is a burden and should no longer be required. In a statement released after the vote, union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge expressed disappointment and called on the Assembly to oppose the measure. 

Sen. Fabian Doñate (D-Las Vegas), who chaired the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Committee that sent SB441 forward without a recommendation, said in a floor speech there are provisions of the bill that have merit and should “have been termed out once the emergency declaration ended.

However, Doñate cited family members, including his grandmother who worked as a housekeeper on the Strip and told him of the challenges she faced. He added that his office had received calls from district residents asking to make revisions to SB441.

“Considering that this bill may fall short on that request, I’m casting my opposition to this bill,” Doñate said. Sen. Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) and Sen. James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) also voted in opposition.

SB411 now moves to the Assembly.

STI testing for minors

Sen. Heidi Seevers Gansert (R-Reno) joined Democrats in support of SB172, bringing the vote total to 14-7. The bill would allow a minor without parental permission to consent to receive services that would prevent a sexually transmitted disease, including access to contraception. 

Gansert cited growing rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in adolescents (15-24 years of age). She noted that though 15-24 year olds only make up about 25 percent of the population, they account for approximately half of the new STIs in the country every year. 

She said children do not always go to their parents to ask for birth control or STI prevention methods and it is vital to make sure they can be protected.

“As a parent, and given the experience that I’ve had and others, and given the rate of infection for STDs or STIs, and given the difficult decision women may face if they do become pregnant at very early age, I’ll be supporting this legislation,” Seevers Gansert said.

Repealing a constitutional lottery ban

Democratic lawmakers voted to move forward with AJR5, a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal the state’s 159-year-old ban on lotteries. But two Democratic lawmakers, Assembly members Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas) and David Orentlicher (D-Las Vegas), joined Republican lawmakers in opposition, leading to a 26-15 vote. (Assemblyman Bert Gurr’s (R-Elko) vote was recorded as yes, but he later said that he intended to vote no.)

Some opponents of the bill have criticized it for including no mention of youth mental health funding, which sponsor Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller (D-North Las Vegas) hopes a state lottery would support that funding. Though the proposed amendment would repeal a ban on lotteries, separate legislation would have to come later to establish a state lottery and allocate its revenue.

Expanding urban school boards gets another haircut

Legislators voted 29-11 (with four Democratic and seven Republican lawmakers in opposition) to advance a bill that would add four nonvoting members to the Clark County School Board — a move that has come only after multiple passes at narrowing the scope of the bill. 

In its original form, AB175 would have sought to create a hybrid elected-appointed school board in Clark and Washoe counties, amid long-running concerns over the efficacy of the fully elected boards.

But that language was largely rolled back before the bill’s first hearing, which instead pivoted to adding the new, nonvoting members to those same school boards. The inclusion of Washoe County in the bill has since been amended out. The bill’s bipartisan sponsors argued during a hearing last month that the move would add professionalism and expertise to K-12 governance. 

Local power over rent control

Senate Democrats voted to advance a bill, SB371, that would allow local governments to create affordable housing measures — and in so doing, explicitly give those governments the ability to impose rent control. But in a rare 12-9 split, Sen. Skip Daly (D-Sparks) broke with his fellow Democrats and opposed the measure in an otherwise party-line vote. 

Other highlights

Wild mustangs — Lawmakers voted 18-3 to pass SB90, a bill that would designate the wild mustang as the official state horse. Sen. Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) expressed his opposition to the measure in a lengthy floor speech, highlighting the negative impacts, including public safety issues, caused by wild horses on some rural communities.

Temporary addresses — The senate unanimously voted to pass SB317, a bill that would allow a provider of homeless services to allow a person experiencing homelessness — as long as they are a Nevada resident — to use their address as a “temporary mailing address.”

Landlord fees — Lawmakers also voted unanimously to pass SB381, a bill prohibiting landlords from charging a tenant for maintenance and other upkeep costs.

Ethics test for justices of the peace — SB354, passed in a 20-1 vote with Sen. Robin Titus (R-Wellington) in opposition, would require any justice of the peace who is not licensed or admitted to practice law in the state to pass a test about the duties of the position, including judicial decorum, within 18 months after taking office.

Disabilities bill of rights — Lawmakers voted 17-4 to pass SB315, which would establish a ‘Bill of Rights’ for people with disabilities and people who are aged (65 years or older) receiving Medicaid-covered waiver services. It would also establish a ‘Bill of Rights’ for students with disabilities in Nevada’s K-12 education system.

Banning car tracking devices — In a unanimous vote with two excused absences, lawmakers passed AB356, a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to unlawfully install a mobile tracking device on a vehicle. The bill comes in response to the placement of a GPS tracking device on local government leaders’ vehicles.

— Tabitha Mueller, Sean Golonka, Jacob Solis and Howard Stutz

The post Live updates: Nevada Legislature’s first house passage deadline appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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